Free Video Conferencing with appear.in

If you have been keeping up with my blog you will know that I am a Linux user. Being a Linux user you are, at times, left behind on really cool and exciting software. It’s just a hard fact that most companies do not consider developing software for Linux and focus more on Windows and Mac. It’s actually really annoying. However, it doesn’t hinder me from being productive and getting things done.

One of the tools out there that I have found lacking and with good support is video conferencing with screen sharing. Products like WebEx, Join.me, GoToMeeting, and Skype just don’t have great support for Linux. I’ve used Teamviewer, Hangouts and Jitsi and all are pretty decent for Linux but have their flaws. Recently, I came across a really good tool called appear.in. You can visit and create your own free room by visiting here:

appear_in

And one of the coolest features of this free service is that they have a mobile app for Android and iOS for those on the go.

I’ve tested it out a little, both the desktop and mobile app for Android, with a co-worker using video conferencing and screen sharing, both worked really well, even on Linux (Fedora 24 with Google Chrome).

One of these days when I get some extra time (we have a 8 month old in the house keeping us pretty busy) I may try to schedule a video conference with a few people to see how well it holds up with a large group.

X2Go For Remote Linux

I listen to a couple of podcast that center around the discussion of Linux over at Jupiter Broadcasting. Recently on episode #71 of the Linux Unplugged show in their post-show they discussed X2Go, a technology similar to NoMachine. This discussion was very intriguing to me because I had been searching for a thin client type of access to a Linux machine, especially at work when working from a Windows machine when I need to work on a Linux machine. This motivated me to do some research and attempt to setup my own access to a Linux machine using X2Go. This is what I setup for myself. But keep in mind that this may not be the correct way to setup an X2Go server, this is just what worked for me.

I already had an account and a cloud server with DigitalOcean so I deployed an Ubuntu 14.04 Server and setup everything this way:

1. For Ubuntu 14.04, install repositories:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:x2go/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install x2goserver x2goserver-xsession

http://wiki.x2go.org/doku.php/doc:installation:x2goserver

2. Install preferred Desktop Environment on the server. For Ubuntu Server 14.04, here are the steps for Mate:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/ppa
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/trusty-mate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment-extras

http://wiki.x2go.org/doku.php/doc:de-compat

3. Install the X2Go client on your local computer:

http://wiki.x2go.org/doku.php/doc:installation:x2goclient

4. Create the session information for your connection within the X2Go client.
5. Connect.

This is a screenshot of my connection from Windows 7 to the remote server:

x2go

If I need to, I can configure the session to go full screen. I created a couple of shell scripts on my desktop to change the resolution depending on if I am connecting from my laptop or from my laptop with a external monitor connected with a different resolution.

Here is a screenshot at full screen:

x2gofull

Convert Video to Audio (mp3) in Linux Mint 14

I just came across a scenario where I needed to strip the audio out of a YouTube video file I had created in a Google Hangouts on Air recorded last night for The Unique Geek podcast. I found this post and it did exactly what I needed. Basically, I used the tool avconv via terminal but needed to install the codec necessary to convert to .mp3. The command to install the codec is this:

sudo apt-get install libavcodec-extra-53

I then used the following command to complete the conversion:

avconv -i video.mp4 -ab 192000 audio.mp3

Audio Static In Linux Mint No More

I’ve posted a couple of times that I have had audio static issues in my Linux Mint 14 install. I completely forgot to post that it was fixed thanks to the Linux Mint community over on Google Plus.

Here’s is what was posted there:

Hmm… being intermittent like it is, and not being external, it could be a timing problem. You could try editing /etc/pulse/default.pa, search for the line:
‘load-module module-udev-detect’
and edit it to:
‘load-module module-udev-detect tsched=0’
If there’s any options past “detect” then just comment the line out (so you can restore it if needed) and add the new setting below it.

You’ll have to reboot to be sure the new setting takes effect. If it’s a timer/scheduling problem that should take care of it, if the problem’s with Pulse to begin with.

Audio Static in Google Chrome in Linux Mint

An update on the last post: That fix was only temporary. After a month or so the static came back. I lived with it for a few weeks and decided to switch to Chromium again to see if the Google Hangout plugin was finally working and it is working in Chromium now. However, oddly enough, I have the occasional weird audio issue in Chromium too as heard in this video:

What is odd, as you will notice at about :20 in the video, is that the audio issue goes away. In Google Chrome, it does not go away. It is intermittent in Chromium.

This audio issue doesn’t seem to be an issue in Firefox. Which sucks since I don’t use Firefox; I prefer Google Chrome and/or Chromium.

I’m still searching for a fix.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Adobe Flash Audio Static Issue

This is the first time I have ever experienced this issue using Google Chrome browser. When viewing any type of Flash videos I would hear static in the audio. I realize that there is a Google Chrome alternative within Linux Mint called Chromium, and I have been using it for the past couple of years. However since Google changed to Hangouts and created a Chrome extension that I use all the time I found that it doesn’t work in Chromium so I use Google Chrome exclusively now. Oddly enough, this Flash audio static doesn’t exist in Chromium.

I found a fix on the Google Chrome forum here. Basically, within Google Chrome, in the URL area go to chrome://plugins/. Once there look for the Adobe Flash plugin. You will need to select the Details option to see every detail of the plugin. Disable everything within the plugin except for /usr/lib/flashplugin-installer/libflashplayer.so. For me I only had to disable /opt/google/chrome/PepperFlash/libpepflashplayer.so.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon on Dell XPS

After two years of using Linux Mint 12 Cinnamon 64-bit on my Dell XPS desktop I finally decided to wipe LM 12 and install a newer version. With the release of Linux Mint 15 I was hearing widespread good news about this version so I decided I was finally going to upgrade. It is worth mentioning, though, that in the two years I was running LM 12 on my desktop that I never had any issues; it was all very stable except for the couple of times I made the mistake of attempting an Nvidia driver update. My plan for the upgrade was to install Linux Mint 15 on my Dell Vostro laptop first to see how things would go. Well, if you read my previous post you know that I had a real headache. With that catastrophe behind me I still decided I would attempt an install of LM 15 on my XPS desktop just so that I could get to Cinnamon 1.8. I booted up into the LM 15 Live USB thumb drive on my XPS and immediately ran into some performance issues, my mouse completely froze and I had no response from the keyboard. Essentially, my computer froze. I didn’t give up just yet. I so happen to have a spare Dell XPS desktop lying around; my nephew had also used the same XPS machine but had recently shelved it since we had built him a new, powerful gaming machine. I powered it up with the same LM 15 Live USB thumb drive and experienced the exact same issue. Still I didn’t give up. Just for the heck of it I decided to burn a DVD of LM 15. Same thing happened. It was then that I determined that my system just couldn’t handle Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon for whatever reason. It was then that I decided that it looked as if LM 14 would have to be installed on my desktop also.

I proceeded to install Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon 64-bit without any hassle and even found a means to upgrade Cinnamon to 1.8 thereafter by simply selecting the check for Backported packages from the Software Sources.

SoftSource

I re-installed most of my usual applications including, of course, Conky. I have found that Conky, for me, has become a necessity. With a theme I had used in the past called Next Gen I decided to customize the Next Gen theme some more based on a Tron wallpaper I had found. Because there were so many lines in the wallpaper I couldn’t see the metrics within Conky so I decided to create some transparent rectangles to insert into the Conky theme for the metrics to lay on top of for visibility. And this is what I came up with:

ConkyDesktop

So far these past few days have been great with the new install of Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon 64-bit. It’s been running smooth and I am very happy. Of course, I will be much happier when I can afford to build a more powerful machine like we did for my nephew.